How to tell the Difference: INTJ vs INFJ

How to tell the Difference: INTJ vs INFJ

Loads of people get it into their heads that the sole difference between INTJs and INFJs is that the latter are sweet and kind while the former are complete apathetic jerks. Unfortunately, this assumption is based on stereotypes and doesn’t include the jungian functions at all.

In my experience, there are plenty of both types that defy the stereotype beyond reason, to the point that MBTI-Typers who go based on stereotypes are bound to get them wrong.

This type of behaviour can also be observed if you watch Sherlock.

INxJs share two common functions: dominant Ni, and inferior Se. As a result, it’s easy for the two types to relate to one another on many levels.

Dominant Ni

Ni dominants are…it seems the most likely to get existential depression as children. I had it, Ender Wiggin certainly had it etc. the reason for this is that Ni doms are rigged for pattern recognition and philosophical thinking.

They will both be prone to existential crises (aka, frequent midlife crises) during childhood and youth, that most people don’t experience until they hit 40…mostly because INxJs think too much.

Both INTJs and INFJs are big-picture, future oriented, but also have a narrow goal focus. Both are likely to be ambitious and are known for picking out career paths as very young children. They are likely to be disciplined and so focused on their goals that they often fall prey to the absent-minded-professor syndrome, in which they forget to eat, wash or take care of themselves because they’re so focused on their goal.

In the case that the INxJ doesn’t have a grand life-vision (and this does happen), the INxJ will likely be quite unhappy with their life and…immature for an INxJ. The reason for this is that the life-vision constitutes a major portion of the INxJ’s dominant function, and when a dominant function is neglected, the results tend to be negative. Take a look at Thomas Barrow from Downton Abbey if you want a picture of what this looks like.

INxJs are good at predicting the future intuitively and usually like to plan ahead to keep themselves safe from danger.

Both are extremely good at strategizing, because they notice patterns so easily and then form logical conclusions about those patterns.

Inferior Se

I’m an INTJ and one of my room-mates is INFJ. Both of us notice immediately if any of our belongings get moved, whereas our two other Si-using roommates never notice if their stuff gets moved. We both are incredibly aware of our environments and are more likely to sit down and watch a sunset than our Si-roommates.

We’re also more coordinated than our Si-roommates. I will often sit for hours working out a philosophical problem, and upon solving it I will promptly leap up and over furniture to get to the kitchen because I was so focused that I forgot to feed myself. It seems to amuse my ENTP and ESFJ room-mates quite a lot.

I have also been known to dash for auto-lock doors before they closed because I didn’t want to unlock them to go through. They like to call me an undercover ninja. My INFJ room-mate has attained the reputation of undercover CIA agent.

Both INTJs and INFJs will likely be visual learners and will either need to write things out or draw them to learn them properly.

INxJs are prone to zoning out of reality for long periods of time, so that they live a great deal in their heads. When working out a complicated problem, I tend to be unaware of most of what’s going on around me unless I’m specifically using my environment to solve the problem.

If it’s a hands on problem that uses external evidence, then I’m readily tuned to details in my environment and ready to use them to my advantage. On the other hand, it it’s a theoretical problem that doesn’t involve empiricals, I completely forget my physical environment exists.

When I’m in this zone, I miss all kinds of crazy things –loud things even.

Auxiliary Function: Te vs Fe

Understanding of People

They both understand people extremely well, but they do so using slightly different function combinations. Both will use Se to observe people, feeding their Ni with fairly accurate ideas of people and situations before they can prove it. They tend to reach equally accurate conclusions, but the difference lies in their Auxiliary function.

The INTJ will reason out logically what a person thinks and feels using Te (after the NiSe does its magic) and will be able to accurately describe what a person feels and why they feel that way AKA Speaker for the Dead. Ender Wiggin can accurately know pretty much everything there is to know about a person before being able to prove it (NiSe), after which he hacks into all their computers to prove his conclusions with actual evidence (Te).

On the other hand, you have INFJs, such as the 8th Doctor, who can pinpoint equally accurate ideas of people, after which…he does nothing to logically back up his conclusions. “Don’t be sad, Grace,” he’ll say, but have no evidence as to how he knows this. He’s good at figuring out his enemies’ motivations simply by being in the room with them. He simply observes (Se), and then simultaneously intuits and reads people’s emotions (NiFe).

I have been accused of being a telepath before for knowing things about people that they had never spoken out loud. In times past, I considered myself a sort of Speaker for the Living, because I would write tributes to different people that I heard others judging so that those people could be understood for who they were and not who they appeared to be on the surface.

INTJs will be more organised (Te), but strangely less able to keep a schedule than INFJs because the INFJ’s Fe will give them a greater desire to follow rules and keep social norms, such as not being late to class. INTJs will more likely prioritise their theoretical thought processes than their schedule.

In my mind, a schedule translates to a trivial, but stressful priority.

Communication Style

The Auxiliary function will also dictate how they communicate.

The INTJ is likely to be blunt (Te), and if not blunt, sarcastic. When they speak, they will either sound like a complete pessimist, or an unrealistically idealistic person. The reason for this is that they want to find the absolute truth, and believe themselves to be utter realists. What most people hate about this, is that they’re usually right in their predictions.

Two examples. I was on a car trip across-country with my family and ended up in the middle of nowhere with no gas. Somehow, I intuitively knew we would be fine, and while my family was complaining about how we were doomed and going to be stranded out there until someone came to help us, I was telling them we would be fine.

You can imagine no one wanted to believe me, and…what they all felt when they found out I was right.

Example two: is the deplorable situation when I know everything is going to go completely wrong, and everyone else wants to believe everything is fine. Of course, my Fi need to be absolutely true to myself leads to me wanting to speak only the absolute truth. Naturally, I can’t help speaking my predictions and sounding like a pessimist. In the moment, everyone complains about what a downie I am, and after my prediction comes true, they all avoid my gaze.

The INFJ on the other hand, is more likely to try to sugarcoat their predictions so that they sound nicer and less pessimistic to non-realists. The INFJ will be more accommodating in their communication style, still sarcastic, but less sardonic.

In general the INFJ’s Fe will make them more approachable than INTJs as they will be more charismatic and accommodative, whereas, if the INTJ doesn’t want to talk to you, they willx just ignore you.

When it comes to arguments, the INTJ will more likely try to convince you using logical appeals, whereas the INFJ will use emotional appeals.

Te vs Ti

While both the INFJ and INTJ are goal-oriented, the INTJ will be more likely to realise those visions because of Te action-orientation. As a result, if either of the two is least likely to change majors in college, it’s the INTJ.

Both types will have Ni ambition and visions for their future, but INFJ (Ti) may spend more time analysing it and less time realising it, whereas the INTJ (Te) will focus on achieving their goals whatever the momentary cost.

The INFJ is likely to analyse the information he/she gains extensively (NiTi), while the INTJ will use the information to accomplish something (NiTe).

INTJs are more likely to talk out loud about their thoughts/feelings than INFJs are (Ti vs Te). They’re likely to talk out loud to themselves or write their thoughts in addition to maintaining a constant interior dialogue.

INFJs will most certainly maintain a constant interior dialogue, but don’t often voice it out loud, preferring rather to work through their thoughts in silence (Ti), or through writing.

While both types can be equally introverted, they will show it in different ways. The INFJ will be nice and socialise with people in public (Fe), and the INTJ will probably avoid this (though this isn’t always the case), but will talk to you quite a bit in private (that is, if you get close enough that they feel comfortable talking to you all the time).

Fe vs Fi

Both will be introspective, but in different ways. The INFJ will not easily understand his/her emotions, but will feel them intensely (Fe), and will try to analyse them (Ti). The INFJ will embrace his/her emotions and use them to benefit (or hurt) other people depending on their motivations.

The INTJ will understand his/her emotions extremely well and will analyse them (TeFi), but will be afraid of them, and will try to bury them (lower Fi) rather than embracing them. INTJs will often repress their feelings, to the point that they question whether they have feelings at all. The main way that an INTJ’s F function shows up is through principles. INTJs often have resolute principles and moral standards that they refuse to budge from.

INFJs will be more visibly emotional (Fe), while INTJs will be the people who have a resting-hate-face that doesn’t accurately portray what they’re feeling.

Inferior Se presents a likely annoyance towards traditions, however, INxJs handle this annoyance differently.

I have a loathing for traditions that is much Fi is more pronounced than my INFJ roommate’s minimum annoyance, because my Se is coupled with Fi and hers is coupled with Fe. FiSe is much more likely to make nonconformity into a strict moral code that is lived and embraced, whereas FeSe is likely to subconsciously maintain nonconformity if at all, but generally try to accommodate all people.

The INFJ will feel other people’s emotions and be affected heavily by them. Often, the INFJ will even be weighed down by all the emotions they are carrying around with them. They will often internalise other people’s feelings while misunderstanding their own feelings.

The INTJ will not feel other people’s emotions, and although they will likely understand both their own feelings and the feelings of others, they will often detach from both. Thus…the sociopath stereotype. Rather, the INTJ prefers to understand emotion by analysing it logically.

Both types internalize emotion and are known to experience health problems as a result. Compare Kurt Wallander (INFJ) and Alex Hardy (INTJ) if you want examples of both types internalising stress.

If you’re wondering about the INTJs that defy the jerk-stereotype and want further comparison between Fi and Fe, read the Sympathetic INTJs post


60 thoughts on “How to tell the Difference: INTJ vs INFJ

  1. Hello, I am an INFJ and I feel as though I don’t fully understand the difference between Fe and Fi. Does an Fe understand others’ feelings more than they do their own, which leads them to become reclusive and quiet? I often struggle to cope with my emotions, and my mind runs over all of the things that I should have done, with stresses me out and prevents me from getting a decent night’s sleep.

    I’m not a professional, but from my experience, an Fe user is more likely to be happy on the outside, but stressed and sad on the inside, and some people can see this in them. Is this wholly true? I feel as though Fi means that you feel like nobody understands you and that you are relatively alone, however I occasionally feel that way. I have taken many tests, and even after typing myself, I receive INFJ. However, now I question that due to my ignorance to the difference between Fi and Fe. Any advice?


  2. I did the test and got 60% feeling to 40% thinking. I think it is impossible for one type of personality to fit the bill for any person. Each of us are unique in so many ways, with personal biographies and so many social forces influencing who we are. But overall, it helped me to know that I use more feeling and my thinking is not less developed but feeling gets the dominant role in how I interact with the world.


  3. Do you think it would be possible for an INTJ to feel such extreme sympathy for a person that the INTJ would reflect the other person’s emotional state? I’ve been trying to figure out whether I’m Te or Fe, and I would say that I operate Te-ish -ly in all the other ways you mentioned. However, I have in the past experienced the aforementioned emotional mirroring (although it only happened that once), and I can read the emotional energy of the room (and of individuals) with almost frightening accuracy. In general, though, I don’t feel much emotion–mine or anyone else’s. Would you say that the above incidents of empathy and emotion-reading would be more signs of Fe?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, in the case of shadow functions, yes. A healthy/mature INTJ does use his/her shadow functions without getting locked into them.

      Whether emotional mirroring is due to Fe or Fi however, is a bit more complicated. For instance, are you reflecting these emotions because you identify strongly with this person’s experience to begin with (Fi)? Or are you reflecting them regardless of having any similar experience (Fe)? How often it happens can also be an indicator of where your F function sits in the stack.

      Also, this is not mbti related, but if you’re interested in the way that people reflect each other’s emotional states, you should by all means read the book “Bonds that Make us Free.” It can be a bit corny at times, but I think its core argument is fascinating.


  4. It depends upon how mature you are, and you say you are very young. I typed as an INTJ at your age, but I am definitely an INFJ now, because I am mentally and emotionally more mature and healthier overall. It takes time to develop the Pre-frontal cortex of course, and one’s life experience. Of the types, the INFJ is famous for being an, “ambi” type. So change is of course normal and welcomed in life. Cheers.


  5. Sometimes I appear as a INFJ and sometimes as a INTJ on tests
    I still am confused as to what is my MBTI type. This might actually prove interesting to most people as to myself. I am nineteen, studying civil engineering, yet have a huge obsession with history , science , psychology , facial expressions , strategy (military strategy is extremely fascinating), etc. I used to act like a full INTJ as described in your site. I used to be quite stupid reading people’s emotions and seemed emotionless in my actions and words ( Thought process also identical to an INTJ). Then …. events happened , for some reason I remember very well the story of Friedhelm Winter, somewhat similar lost my feelings, and felt a deadened morality to adapt, due to crappy events and somehow “changed”, but later on recovered and became quite emotional, yet have a cynic-idealist dichotomy. However in my case I became very adept at reading people’s minds. Somehow I can just gaze at people and read out what they feel. I mean I can actually gaze into someone I don’t know and see all that which the person is hiding, past events ( I somehow just looked at someone I did not know, and knew just by staring at her eyes that she had suffered some form of abuse) , without no apparent logical explanation (I suspect subconsciously I do make connections , but do not know which ones ). I am a clever manipulator and do not hide from my feelings, I actually embrace them to accomplish what I want in life but somehow can also at the same time detach myself from the situation and analyse it from a rational perspective (at the same time). I tend to be very emotional and I tend to sugarcoat things a lot. I tend to act like a INFJ in appearance yet am rational. Somehow I also can get into people’s shoes and analyse things from their perspective. I can find rationality in “irrational emotions “ of many people and actually can use their own emotions against them. My ability to read people is very much a INFJ-ish, and can figure out motivations like an INFJ. But my brain can also grasp why people feel a certain way. I have a huge understanding of my own emotions and socialize a lot in a INFJ-ish way (even though IT IS TIRING AT TIMES), and appear to be quite charismatic. I am very emotional yet somehow have that weird can-detach-myself-from-what-I-feel thing where I analyse rationally other people ( at the same time) . I also am affected deeply by other people’s emotions even when it shouldn’t be that way.

    PS: I also tend to be quite emotional in my writings and love being that way

    Some interesting idea on what I am ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hm. As someone who is pretty sure of my INFJ-ness I completely relate to most of what you say. But of course I’m not representative of ALL INFJs.
      In my experience of Fe, I don’t even have to consciously analysis a person (with any sort of logical thought patterns) to feel what they feel, I just, well, feel it. Which seems like something you relate to yes?
      I think INFJs can be very rational (NiTi) when need be. They can often make excellent engineers and scientists and what not.
      I don’t think my Fe is very healthy (thanks mental illness) and it is very hard for me to detach from my emotions in tougher situations that involve other people. But, as I said, I can’t speak for all (healthier) INFJs.
      I hope this makes sense and helps a little?? It is a bit of a ramble, I admit.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for explaining the difference between both of these types. I am new to MBTI and took the personality test where I came out as INFJ with a 56% in F type. A few days later I repeated the test to be sure and the result was INTJ with a 56% in the T type. After researching I was pretty sure that I was an INFJ, but I wanted to be sure. After reading this article, I am positive that I am an INFJ. I think that the greatest difference is the way we respond to emotions. I find myself reliving my emotions constantly even if I don’t want to, as opposed to suppressing them as INTJs do. Thanks for helping me clarify which type I belong to. This was really helpful.

    Liked by 1 person


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